A hotel industry-backed campaign released an ad Monday linking home-sharing platform Airbnb Inc. to public safety threats.
The 30-second ad by the Hotel Association of New York City Inc. and the union that represents hotel workers links short-term rentals to the May bombing that killed 23 people and injured hundreds more in Manchester, England, following an Ariana Grande concert.
The ad references media reports that bomber Salman Abedi used a short-term rental apartment he found online to have “massive packages” sent before the bombing. The unit rented by Abedi, however, was not an Airbnb unit, according to the company. ShareBetter, the hotel-industry backed campaign opposing the company, also acknowledged that the flat Abedi rented wasn’t rented on the Airbnb platform.
Peter Schottenfels, a spokesman for Airbnb, said in an email that the ad was an “outrageous scare tactic by big hotels.”
“The fact is Airbnb had nothing to do with the tragic events in Manchester and we are one of the only hospitality companies that runs background checks on all U.S. residents, both hosts and guests. Hotel CEOs have a responsibility to tell us why they don’t do the same and why they continue to fund this sort of despicable, cynical advertising,” Schottenfels continued.
“Who is in your building?,” text on the ad claims that the online home-sharing platform allows illegal listings on its website and has declined to hand over addresses to law enforcement.
The ad, according to ShareBetter, will be running during prime morning and evening airtime on major cable networks throughout New York City, including CNN, MSNBC and Fox News. The ads are also scheduled to play during Yankees and Mets games. A spokesman for the hotel workers union said the ad buy was in the mid-six figure range and slated to run for 10 days.
Like many other budding technology companies, Airbnb has been met with a tepid response from legislators (NYLJ Feb. 22) in New York. The San Francisco-based company sued the state in federal court October 2016 (NYLJ Oct. 21) after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law that would subject those who advertise units illegally to high fines, but later dropped the suit. Airbnb is engaged in a bitter feud with the hotel industry, which has deep roots in New York and considerable sway among lawmakers. Earlier this month, Airbnb filed an ethics complaint against the ShareBetter campaign.
Contact Josefa Velasquez at firstname.lastname@example.org.